Kenya freezes bank accounts with suspected terrorism links

Kenya has suspended a series of bank accounts suspected to be connected to financing terrorism, days after the university massacre of almost 150 people by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab, the treasury said.

“Actions taken are consistent with the international law on financing terrorism…. we produced a list of persons and entities who may have been involved in facilitating terrorism activities,” said top treasury official Kamau Thugge.

Photo Credits : AFP

Kenyans hold march for national security after massacre

Kenyans prepared to march for greater national security Tuesday following last week’s massacre by Somalia’s Shebab Islamists, ahead of a candlelit vigil on the final day of mourning for the 148 people killed by the militants.

Kenyan fighter jets pounded camps belonging to the Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents in southern Somalia on Monday, but anger has been growing over allegations that critical intelligence warnings were missed.

Special forces units took seven hours to reach the university in Garissa last Thursday, some 365 kilometres (225 miles) from the capital, as Shebab gunmen stormed dormitory buildings before lining up non-Muslim students for execution in what President Uhuru Kenyatta described as a “barbaric medieval slaughter”.

The massacre, Kenya’s deadliest attack since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi, claimed the lives of 142 students, three police officers and three soldiers.

Tuesday’s demonstration was due to begin at 10:00 am (0700 GMT) in Nairobi as security forces continued their hunt for those behind the university killings, with the vigil planned for later in the afternoon on the third and final day of national mourning.

The army said Monday’s airstrikes destroyed two Islamist bases, and followed a promise by Kenyatta that he would retaliate “in the severest way possible” against the Shebab militants for their attack last Thursday.

“We bombed two Shebab camps in the Gedo region,” Kenyan army spokesman David Obonyo told AFP, without giving details about any possible casualties in the lawless Somali area bordering Kenya.

– Battle against Shebab –

Kenyan airplanes have made repeated strikes in southern Somalia since sending troops into their war-torn neighbour in 2011 to attack Shebab bases, with Nairobi later joining the African Union force fighting the Islamists.

“The bombings are part of the continued process and engagement against Al-Shebab, which will go on,” Obonyo added.

The Shebab fled their power base in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu in 2011, and continue to battle the AU force, AMISOM, sent to drive them out. It includes troops from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

The Shebab group has carried out a string of revenge attacks in neighbouring countries, notably Kenya and Uganda, in response to their participation in the AU force.

On Saturday, Shebab warned of “another bloodbath” unless Kenya withdraws its troops from Somalia, and threatened a “long, gruesome war”.

Shebab fighters also carried out the Westgate shopping mall attack in Nairobi in September 2013, a four-day siege which left at least 67 people dead.

Five men have been arrested in connection with the university attack, including three alleged “coordinators” captured as they fled towards Somalia, and two others seized in the university compound.

The two arrested on campus included a security guard and a Tanzanian found “hiding in the ceiling” and holding grenades, the interior ministry said.

A $215,000 (200,000 euro) bounty has also been offered for alleged Shebab commander Mohamed Mohamud, a former Kenyan teacher said to be the mastermind behind the attack and believed to now be in Somalia.

– Abattoir-like stench –

Authorities on Sunday named one of the four gunmen killed as a fellow Kenyan, highlighting the Shebab’s ability to recruit within the country.

Interior ministry spokesman Mwenda Njoka said high-flying Abdirahim Abdullahi, an ethnic Somali, was a university law graduate described by those who knew him as an A-grade student and “a brilliant upcoming lawyer”.

The spokesman said Abdullahi’s father, a local official in the northeastern county of Mandera, had “reported to the authorities that his son had gone missing and suspected the boy had gone to Somalia”.

Forensic investigators aided by foreign experts have continued to scour the site, where an AFP reporter on Monday was among the first journalists to enter since the attack, describing bullet-scarred buildings, blood stains on the floors, and an abattoir-like stench across the campus.

Although Kenyatta has vowed to retaliate for the massacre, there have also been calls for national unity.

In an address to the nation on Saturday, Kenyatta said people’s “justified anger” should not lead to “the victimisation of anyone” — a clear reference to Kenya’s large Muslim and Somali minorities in a country where 80 percent of the population is Christian.

Photo Credits : AFP

Somalia calls for closer security ties after ‘barbaric’ Kenya massacre

Somalia and Kenya must boost security cooperation between them, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said Friday, as he offered his condolences a day after “barbaric” Islamist gunmen massacred 147 students.

Mohamud said he mourned the “lives of innocent students” killed in the university in the northeastern Kenyan town of Garissa, offering his “condolences to the families of those who have died in this attack by the merciless terrorists.”

Masked gunmen from Somalia’s Shebab Islamist group killed the Kenyan students Thursday in a day-long college campus siege, the country’s deadliest attack since the 1998 US embassy bombings.

All four of the gunmen wore suicide vests packed with explosives, detonating themselves in huge blasts as the dramatic assault finally ended after some 16 hours.

Hurling grenades and firing automatic rifles, the gunmen had stormed the university in the northeastern town of Garissa at dawn as students were sleeping, shooting dead dozens before setting Muslims free and holding Christians and others hostage.

The government said at least 79 people were wounded in the assault near the lawless border with war-torn Somalia, several seriously, and there are fears the death toll may still rise.

In the final hour before darkness fell, Kenyan troops stormed a student dormitory where the gunmen were holed up as blasts and fierce gunfire rang out.

Interior Minister Joseph Nkaiserry said the four died detonating their suicide vests as soldiers burst in shooting, with Western security sources reporting that several soldiers and hostages may have died in the final blasts.

Troops then continued to search the campus for any possible insurgents until the siege was declared over late on Thursday, with the national disaster operations centre saying it had “ended with all four terrorists killed.”

The attack was claimed by Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab fighters, the same insurgents who carried out the Westgate shopping mall massacre in Nairobi in September 2013, when four gunmen killed at least 67 people in a four-day siege.

Shebab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage told AFP the gunmen had taken non-Muslims hostage, and that their mission had been “to kill those who are against the Shebab.”

– Senseless and barbaric –

The university siege marks the worst attack on Kenyan soil since the 1998 bombing of the US embassy in Nairobi by Al-Qaeda, when 213 people were killed by a huge truck bomb.

The United States condemned Thursday’s attack in the “strongest terms”, while UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for those responsible to “be swiftly brought to justice.”

British Minister for Africa James Duddridge called the killings “senseless” and “barbaric”, while the French presidency said it stood “ready to work” with Kenya in its fight against terrorism.

It was not clear if any of the students the Shebab said they had held were alive at the time of the final assault by troops. However, officials said over 500 students had been rescued from the fighting.

“Kenya is at war with Somalia,” Rage said, referring to the thousands of Kenyan troops in Somalia as part of an African Union military mission.

Soldiers with tanks were deployed around the campus.

A $215,000 (200,000 euro) bounty was offered for the capture of alleged Shebab commander Mohamed Mohamud, a former Kenyan teacher believed to now be in Somalia and said to be the mastermind behind the Garissa attack.

The garrison town is around 150 kilometres (90 miles) west of Somalia and has been targeted in the past by militants from the Shebab.

– ‘Gunmen shot indiscriminately’ –

Police chief Joseph Boinet said “the gunmen shot indiscriminately” after storming the compound.

The sprawling campus on the outskirts of town has both teaching areas as well as residential blocks.

The university has several hundred students from different parts of Kenya, and the first bodies of some of those killed were flown to Nairobi late Thursday for families to collect on Friday, the start of the Easter weekend, a major holiday in the country.

A dawn until dusk curfew has been imposed on several northern and eastern Kenyan districts for two weeks.

Kenya has been hit by a wave of grenade and gun attacks, often blamed on sympathisers of the Shebab and sometimes aimed at police targets, since the army crossed into southern Somalia in 2011 to attack Islamist bases.

A series of foreign travel warnings in response to the threat have crippled Kenya’s economically important tourism industry.

On Wednesday, just hours before the Garissa attack began, President Uhuru Kenyatta said Kenya “is as safe as any country in the world.”

He also ordered the “urgent” enrolment of a planned 10,000 police recruit boost, warning Kenya had “suffered unnecessarily due to shortage of security personnel.”

Kenya’s government has been under fire since the Westgate attack. In June and July last year Shebab gunmen killed close to 100 people in a series of attacks on the town of Mpeketoni and nearby villages.

In November, the Shebab claimed responsibility for holding up a bus outside Mandera town, separating passengers according to religion and murdering 28 non-Muslims. Ten days later 36 non-Muslim quarry workers were also massacred in the area.

Photo Credits : AFP

Pakistan military kills 59 Taliban militants after school massacre

The Pakistani army said it has killed 59 militants in clashes in the northwest, including 32 in an ambush in a remote valley near the Afghan border, in intensified fighting since this week’s Taliban massacre of children at a school.

The ambush took place overnight in the northwestern Tirah valley in the Khyber agency, one of the main smuggling routes for arms and insurgents crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Security forces ambushed (the) moving group … Fleeing terrorists left behind bodies of their accomplices,” the military said in a statement.

There was no independent verification of the clash.

The military also said late on Thursday that 17 militants were killed in air strikes in Khyber and 10 in ground fighting.

The army is fighting offensives against Pakistani Taliban insurgents in Khyber as well as the North Waziristan region, which is also on the Afghan border.

 

Children forced to watch their teacher being burned alive as Taliban murder 132 children

A teacher is believed to have been burned alive while her pupils were forced to watch as Taliban gunmen stormed a school in Pakistan in an apparent revenge attack for Malala Yousafzai winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

Seven Taliban terrorists attacked the Army Public School in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar Tuesday, slaughtering 132 children in the deadliest terrorist attack in the nation’s history.

Harrowing eyewitness accounts revealed how students were forced to watch as bodies were burned beyond recognition.

Other survivors told how they played dead while insurgents scoured the school looking for children to shoot, before open fire indiscriminately – sometimes with smiles on their faces.

During a three-hour orgy of bloodshed, seven jihadists claimed at least 141 lives before themselves being killed.

Now one expert has claimed that the horrific events which unfolded Tuesday could have been in retaliation to 17-year-old Malala winning this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

The massacre was also said to be an act of revenge against the Pakistani army, which has been attempting to suppress the Pakistani Taliban in their north Waziristan tribal homelands over the past few months.